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Rethinking the Status QUO
ClOSe K A three-part series examining issues
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P''\ ■ Today; Electoral College and Voting Woes
// \\ ■ Friday: Mandate?
By Lucas Fenske
Assistant State & National Editor
There likely will be 538 of them; 14 from North Carolina, 54 who hail from
California and 25 who live in Florida.
Some are lawyers who fight with legal briefs. Others might be community
activists, relying on civil disobedience instead. You could pass one of them on
the street today and not realize it.
When you voted Nov. 7, it was for any one of them, an elector in the Electoral
College - not Republican George W. Bush or Democrat A1 Gore.
And they are the people who will meet Dec. 18 and elect the next president
But some constitutional experts are saying the unique nature of the 2000
election might lead to changes in the Electoral College.
For more than a century now, the candidate who has won the popular
vote also has captured the Electoral College, making the group little more
than a formality on the way to the Oval Office.
But this election might end that streak.
Gore, who is winning the popular vote by 260,000 votes, is poised
to lose Florida -and the election - to Bush, who is currendy
leading by fewer than 1,000 votes in that state.
A Florida victory would give Bush 271 electoral votes to
Gore’s 267. A candidate needs 270 votes to win.
But Bush’s lead in the Florida popular vote could |
increase, shrink or transform into a Gore victory, depend
ing on the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing and
several other cases pending in Florida courts.
And the possibility that the next president might have lost
the popular vote and won by so few electoral votes has some
people up in arms, trying to reform the Electoral College.
The Electoral College resulted from a compromise
between two factions on how the president would be elected.
One group wanted the people to wield the power, while the other group would
have given it to Congress - arguing in part that most voters were too uneducat
ed to be allowed to directly elect the chief executive.
Reform proponents say the changes are necessary because the college - designed
when blacks were still property and women couldn’t vote - can pick a president who
lost the popular vote, nullifying the popular vote as it has three times in the past
But reform opponents say the Electoral College - firmly rooted in the princi
ples of the founding fathers and the country’s political tradition - should remain
untouched to provide a voice for small states and to prevent regional divisions.
Before the Electoral College can be altered on a nationwide basis, it will take
a constitutional amendment, which will require approval of the U.S. House and
Senate and then ratification by three-fourths of the states.
Constitutional experts say any Electoral College reform likely would take one
of two possible routes - abolishing the college outright and using the popular
vote to elect the president, or moving from the winner-take-all system to the pro
portional system currently used in Maine.
Under this system, two of Maine’s four electoral votes go to the candidate who
received the most votes in the state. The remaining electoral votes are divided
between the candidates based on who wins each of the state’s U.S. House districts.
But Republican elector Robert Rector of Louisburg opposes any changes to
the Electoral College. Rector, who is a history professor at Louisburg College,
said political dynamics would completely change without the Electoral College.
He said candidates would ignore the Midwest region to focus their campaign
in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. “The smaller states would
be crazy to give up the electoral system,” Rector said.
See ELECTORAL, Page 2
Francisco Wakes From '5-Year Sleep'
By Wendy Phillips
NASHVILLE - Before the bandages were
lifted from Francisco’s eyes Tuesday morning,
Dr. Ming Wang, Francisco’s mom and teacher
Carole Klein said a short prayer.
That prayer was answered.
“It was a miracle,” Wang said. “A huge smile
spread across his face, and I knew that we had
After a quick eye test, it was determined that
Francisco’s surgery had repaired the sight in his
right eye to 20/70 vision. The process to repair
his left eye will begin after his right eye has
“It was like waking from a five-year sleep,”
Francisco said. “Before I could see, I had to rec
ognize my friends from the sound of their voic
Francisco, a sophomore at Chapel Hill High
School, lost his eyesight in a chemical injury
when he was 10 years old.
Francisco, his mother and Klein all flew to
Vanderbilt University Medical Center on
Monday morning to begin the surgical process.
Three days later, Francisco could actually
view his own reflection in the mirror.
“The first time I saw everybody, they all
looked so tall,” Francisco said.
CHHS students raised money during the
month of November to fund Francisco’s trip.
The money helped pay for hospital, travel and
Wang, who waived his surgical fee, said the
surgery went more smoothly than he expected.
“The only thing that is different about his eye
is the white doughnut-shaped ring surrounding
his cornea,” Wang said.
The ring of stem cells that now surrounds
Francisco’s cornea was taken from a 12-year-old
donor from Winston-Salem.
“It was important that the donor cornea be
as close to Francisco’s age as possible,” Wang
“That way, the recipient would not outlive
the donor cornea.”
In a few months, Francisco’s eye should be
completely adjusted to the cornea graft.
“At that point, we will know for sure how
The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.
Henry David Thoreau
Turn It Down
Carrboro officials are examining
the noise ordinance because of
local construction. See Page 4
Serving the students and the University community since 1893
Election Problems Common;
High Stakes Prompt Scrutiny
By Jennifer Samuels
For Bob Hunter, the 1998 election did not
end after Election Night.
A reporting error in New Hanover County
showed that Hunter, running for a state Court
of Appeals seat, lost the election by 2,500 votes.
But a state law mandating a recount in
races in which candidates are separated by
less than 1 percent of the total vote signified
the contest was not over yet.
The recount put Hunter in the lead, hand
ing him the election by 2,500 votes.
Hunter’s experience is not uncommon.
On a much larger scale, the recent presi
dential election controversy in Florida has
well he will be able to see,” Wang said.
While Francisco is waiting for his eye to heal
from the surgery, he will have to take drugs that
suppress his immune system.
“This is to keep the foreign cells of the donor
from being rejected by Francisco’s immune sys
tem,” Wang said.
“The drugs that Francisco will have to take
will make him very susceptible to disease, but
as long as he takes good care of himself, he
should be OK.”
Francisco’s surgery consisted of a three-part
First, scar tissue had to be lanced from the
outside of Francisco’s eyeball. This tissue had
built up as a result of an accident that occurred
after his first surgery, which left his original
Second, Francisco’s blood cells were cauter
ized so that his pupil could be moved down to
its proper position.
Finally, the ring of donor stem cells had to be
sutured around Francisco’s cornea.
See FRANCISCO, Page 2
shown that no election is problem-free.
Florida counties have counted ballots sev
eral times since Election Day by machine
and, in some counties, by hand.
Election officials have scrutinized the bal
lots, sometimes with magnifying glasses,
looking for indentations or points of fight
that might determine voter intent. Florida
voters have sued some counties, claiming
confusing ballots disenfranchised them.
And the candidates themselves -
Republican George W. Bush and Democrat
A1 Gore - have turned to the courts for res
olution instead of the county canvassing
boards, which count the ballots.
See OVERSIGHT, Page 2
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PHOTO COURTESY OF MARSHALL BAIN
Francisco's surgery Tuesday resulted in the 16-year-old regaining vision
in his right eye after being blinded at age 10.
Today: Partly cloudy, 50
Friday: Cloudy, 53
Saturday: Cloudy, 50
Thursday, November 30, 2000
To Fight Into
The Florida Legislature is considering calling
a special session to name state electors if
the legal disputes continue to drag on.
The Associated Press
A1 Gore raced between TV interviews Wednesday asking,
“Will we count all the votes or not?” while his lawyers urgent
ly sought a high court ruling with the answer he wanted. Both
Democrat Gore and GOP rival George W. Bush pressed for-
ward with separate blueprints for building
“On Jan. 20, a President Bush will be
ready to take the reins of the government,”
said top adviser Andy Card - awarding
his boss a tide that Gore still hopes will be his.
Bracing the public for more legal wrangling, the vice pres
ident said he was prepared to fight until “the middle of
December” and suggested the dispute could drag past the Dec.
12 deadline for appointing state electors - to six days later
when the Electoral College meets.
With the stakes so high, the
Legislature inched closer to securing
Bush a backup plan.
House Speaker Tom Feeney said
Wednesday that he is convinced law
makers need to go into special session as
early as next week to name its own slate
of presidential electors. And Senate
President John McKay agreed that was a
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the candi
date’s brother, said he would sign the
necessary legislation “if it was the appro
priate thing to do.”
Still, with the recount case headed to
the highest court in the land, Jeb Bush
said, “The United States Supreme Court trumps the Legislature.”
Gore himself told CNN that Florida voters would not stand
for “the expression of their will taken away by politicians.”
Gore is trying to overturn official results of the decisive
Florida election before the public’s
patience runs out on the 22-day ordeal.
“I certainly believe that I did” win the
White House, Gore told NBC.
Needing a quick court victory, Gore
authorized his divided legal team to ask
the Florida Supreme Court to recount
contested ballots or order a lower court
to do it, two Democratic legal sources
said late Wednesday.
One million ballots were being
hauled 400 miles from southern to
northern Florida, where the precedent
making case has been thrust upon a
folksy circuit judge in Tallahassee.
“Pack ’em up, and bring ’em up,”
Judge N. Sanders Sauls said.
Bush planned to meet Thursday with
retired Gen. Colin Powell, his still-to-be-announced choice as
secretary of state.
The Texas governor also called GOP congressional leaders,
telephoned one conservative Mississippi Democrat himself
and assigned his staff to call other Democratic lawmakers as
Gore struggled to keep his party in fine.
told NBC that
he believes he
won the race
L Mk I
George W. Bush
is busy selecting his
staff in anticipation
of an announcement
of his victory.